Break down, it’s all right

1 08 2017

When I was 22 I gave up hope.

It was necessary, a way to keep myself alive, but I don’t know that it was a conscious decision so much as a fait accompli.

Almost 30 years late, and I’m still snagged on that word, hope: hope you’re feeling better; hope it goes well; etc. I didn’t use it at all, for years, but sometimes there’s no good way to avoid the word without drawing attention to its avoidance. So, I use it, sparingly, and always with a mental reservation.

I gave it up because I was broken, as a person. I may or may not still be broken, and perhaps I won’t ever get past those breaks without at least a handshake with hope, but I have managed to put together a life without it.

It’s hard, and I wouldn’t particularly recommend it to anyone, but if you have to abandon hope, you can, and live.

The loss of hope is, or can be, less a tossing-away than an uncovering: you’ll see things, in this hope-less life, that you wouldn’t otherwise. I can’t say if this new sight is worth it, relatively speaking, but, again, there is a kind of clarity, here.

This is how I’m coming to see my response to the 2016 elections. Something broke inside of me, and I couldn’t get a handle on it. Now, I’m thinking that I had a kind of hope in American politics, a hope I never really considered, never really recognized, and that now that’s gone.

Again, a hard thing, but not the worst thing. Again, I gain a sight, a sense of the meanness of this country, which, however maddening, is useful to have.

The differences between the personal and the political hope-loss are that I didn’t know I had any left to lose, and that I thought I already knew how the US could be; that’s what made election night so unbelievably painful.

A more significant difference is that I ended up in a place where there are already a hell of a lot of people—mostly, people of color—who had discarded hope long ago. They haven’t given up; they just don’t expect that everything will somehow turn out right. No, there is work to be done.

This work would be easier, I’d think, if there were hope; or maybe it would just be easier to avoid the work. (I have evidence from my personal life to support both possibilities.) Regardless, there is work to be done.

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4 responses

2 08 2017
dmf

In some ways my own coming to terms with the general mindlessness even brutishness of the vast majority of human-doings was a kind of mournful and often angry pruning down of my sense of what’s actually possible to a very small and close at hand realm, my own little cut, weathered, and twisted bonsai umwelt if you will, I tend to it as best I can day to day.

2 08 2017
3 08 2017
absurdbeats

Yeah, I’m still trying to figure this out.

4 08 2017
dmf

I think that’s a big part of the struggle the needing to figure it out and not having the kind of unthinking/herd-instinct/participation-mystique by which most folks are able to go with the flow of socialization as they are never quite seeing what a big pile of cut&pastes the whole thing really is, as for those of us mutant fringers facing the cracks, gaps and rough edges we are left with the extra work of conscious bricolage.

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